“The experience of much of Africa and the Middle East since 1945, as well as large parts of Asia, makes it clear that Roosevelt’s faith in decolonization was misplaced [Roosevelt believed decolonization would lead to peace and prosperity].” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), p. 174.

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“The age of empires reached its zenith in the century stretching from the 1880s until the 1980s. For most of that period a relatively small number of empires governed nearly all of the world. On the eve of the First World War, Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, which among them accounted for less than 1 percent of the world’s land surface and less than 8 percent of its population, ruled in the region of a third of the rest of the world’s area and more than a quarter of its people. All of Australasia, 90 percent of Africa and 56 percent of Asia were under some form of European rule, as were nearly all the islands of the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. And although only around a quarter of the American continent – mainly Canada – found itself in the same condition of dependence, nearly all the rest had been ruled from Europe at one time or another in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In both the north and the south, the polities of the American republics were fundamentally shaped by the colonial past.” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), p. 171.

“Considering the list of Saddam’s [Saddam Hussein] violations of international law and his manifest contempt for the numerous UN Security Council resolutions he had inspired – seventeen in just four years – the only mystery is why Iraq was not invaded before 2003.” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), p. 154.

“In some ways, the war against terrorism retained the espionage of the cold war without any of the front-of-the-house hardware: no serried ranks of missiles and tanks, just an ever-wider range of cameras, some hidden in matchboxes, others orbiting in outer space. But it was also like the old Great Game – once again a game played in the Middle East, Central Asia and Afghanistan, but now a game played with gizmos. The war against terrorism needed to counter the terrorist’s new technological advantages (the power and compactness of modern explosives) with the modern spy’s (the unprecedented power of modern surveillance technology).” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), pp. 150-151.

“With the end of the cold war opportunities presented themselves to use America’s reviving military power against one or more of those dangerous states that simultaneously threatened Israel, possessed oil and sponsored terrorism. The question was not whether the United States would act against these sworn enemies; it could not afford not to. The question was whether it would do so alone or in partnership with its traditional allies.” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), p. 131.

“No terrorist movement is immune from schism when confronted by both duress and dialogue.” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), p. 127.

“…the surprising thing about 9/11 was simply that it had not happened before. The United States had for years subsidized Israel. It had shored up the shah’s regime in Iraq. It had deployed troops in Arabia. There was no shortage of motivations for an attack by one or other of the Middle East’s terrorist groups.” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), pp. 124-125.

“…terrorism in the real world is about more than symbolism. It is the continuation of war by other means – by those who are too weak to wage proper war in pursuit of their political goals. The characteristic feature of terrorism is that its violence is sporadic. Its technology is primitive. Its operatives are, contrary to popular belief, highly vulnerable to countermeasures – especially when the terrorists have no bases on foreign soil from which to operate. The terrorist’s resources are far inferior to those of the states against which he fights, so that most terrorist organizations depend on a combination of thieving and begging for their funds. It is possible for a terrorist organization to operate in a country without external sources of support, but it requires a secure locality where its members can prepare their attacks without fear of interdiction. When this is not available, the terrorists are bound to seek assistance from abroad. Countries that offer them support – or even mere sympathy – are unlikely to be targets for their violence. Conversely, foreign countries that assist the other side – the government against which the terrorists are fighting – may well find themselves drawn into the conflict.” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), pp. 122-123.

“Failure in Vietnam did more than redefine American attitudes to the world, driving many Americans toward a repudiation of postwar globalism. It also changed the attitudes of the world toward the United States, unleashing a wave of anti-American feeling (not least within the West European intelligentsia)… The imperialism of anti-imperialism had come fatally unstuck if it was the United States that was cast in the role of the evil empire. Small wonder the most successful post-Vietnam movie of them all was in fact a science-fiction fable in which the audience was invited to identify with a ragtag collection of freedom fighters battling for an underdog Rebel Alliance against a sinister Galactic Empire. In Star Wars George Lucas perfectly expressed the American yearning not to be on the dark side of imperialism. It was not without significance that as his cinematic epic unfolded backward a generation later, the archvillain Darth Vader was revealed to have been an all-American Jedi Knight in his youth.” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), p. 102.

“For an empire in denial, there is really only one way to act imperially with a clear conscience, and that is to combat someone else’s imperialism. In the doctrine of containment, born in 1947, the United States hit on the perfect ideology for its own peculiar kind of empire: the imperialism of anti-imperialism.” – Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2005), p. 78.